Archive for June, 2012

Chicken in a dumpster

I found a chicken in a dumpster a few days ago.  It was dead, beheaded, plucked, gutted, wrapped in plastic.  And thrown in a bin.  What a way to go.

I took pity on it, and took it home.  It made me sad to see a life wasted like that.

I tried to imagine what it would be like, to live and die like this chicken.  To spend my whole life in a shed, then killed to spend a few days on a refrigerated shelf in a brightly-lit supermarket.  What would I look like, if it was me in that position?  I picture myself beheaded, gutted, squeezed into shrink-wrap plastic, on a supermarket shelf waiting for someone to buy me, and then thrown in a dumpster when no-one does.

I chose to cook and eat it to do something to honour its life, but this doesn’t feel like enough.  A life needs to be worth more than that.

I haven’t cooked meat for many years, and rarely eat it.  I want to start eating more animal fat, bone broth and stock.  It makes sense to me to cook with animal fat rather than vegetable oil, as it is readily available and often thrown out, whereas vegetable oil takes a lot of land, work, machinery and processing to be useable.  Animal fats also have health benefits over vegetable oil – they are necessary to absorb fat-soluble vitamins and minerals, contain essential omega 3, and don’t degrade with cooking.

Roasting this chicken made me feel feral, like a savage, a hunter, almost cannibalistic.  Seeing this animal being cooked, and then putting my fingers into its body, separating the meat from the bone, felt like something that a civilized human would never need or want to do.  I find it hard to comprehend that many people do this regularly, without ever having thoughts of the life they are taking, or the feelings of savagery that I am having now.

After separating the meat, I put the bones, fat and gristle into a pot of water and simmered it for a couple hours, to make stock.  I strained out the solids, and the water cooled into a thick jelly, not what I was expecting at all.  The stock of one chicken gave me several dinners of chicken soup.

I feel like I should bring all this together somehow, make some conclusion, but I don’t have any conclusions to make.

Climate change – some questions worth debating

The reason the climate debate isn’t getting anywhere is that it’s that the questions being debated don’t help us to understand and take effective action.

Here’s a few questions worth debating.

What are the underlying beliefs and values that lead us to engage in activities that cause climate change?

How can we change these values?

Is climate change worth debating at all?  Are there larger, more important and urgent issues that face our communities, that we need to focus on?  Is the climate change debate a distraction from what’s really going on around us?

Will reducing carbon emissions have any real effect on the earth’s climate, or does this strategy purely serve the purposes of political campaigning?

What are the benefits of a changing climate, to all life?

Is science a useful tool to try to understand climate change, or are there other ways to look at this issue, that would give us a different perspective? 

Is science being a bully, discrediting other views on the topic?

Should we allow politics and science to dictate how we understand and respond to climate change?

Who funds scientific research into climate change?  What are their interests?

Climate change is merely a symptom of the underlying disease of civilization.  Wouldn’t we do better to address the cause of the disease?  To treat only the symptoms will make the underlying condition worse.

If we accept the belief that carbon emissions from industry are causing climate change, then wouldn’t the obvious action be to stop all emissions immediately?  Any amount of emissions only accelerate the change in climate.  To allow this to continue, and merely reduce the amount of emissions, seems of so little value as to not be worth the effort.

Who benefits from the climate debate?

Who benefits from the renewables industry?  Is it people and Earth, or corporations and governments?

How does the manufacture and use of so-called renewables impact on human and natural communities?  I’m thinking of human health, pollution, inequality, pollution, water, forests, quality of life, biodiversity, extinctions, oppression, land degradation, justice, autonomy and all the other tangible and intangible effects that I’m not aware of.

Is generating electricity so that humans can live in comfort more important than the forests, rivers, farmland, and natural communities that are destroyed to make renewable energy in the name of mitigating climate change?

In the whole life-cycle of these technologies (solar, wind, geothermal), are they releasing more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere that the technologies they are intended to replace?  Life cycle includes research and development, extraction of materials from the Earth (oil, metals, water, and more), manufacture, transport, marketing, installation, maintenance, disposal. 

Can renewables ever truly replace conventional energy sources, or will they always be dependendent on the existing energy infrastructure?

Isn’t CO2 in the atmosphere good for plants?  Shouldn’t we just grow more plants to change atmospheric carbon levels, rather than reducing emissions?  Letting weeds grow and forests live seems like a lot less effort.

The Gaia hypothesis says that the Earth is a self-regulating organism.  By this logic climate change is a fever, a strategy to heal itself by making Earth inhospitable to the disease agent.  In this story the disease agent is most likely industrial civilization.  Would an appropriate response be to help the Earth to rid itself of this disease?

The manufacturing of solar panels releases a chemical called nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) into the atmosphere, which has 17 000 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.  Is shutting down the manufacture of solar cells on the agenda of climate change activists?

How many logical fallacies have I committed in asking these questions?

I don’t claim to have answers to any of these, and I’m sure many of them merely expose my ignorance of the issues.  I’m posing them because I find the climate change debate extremely boring, and since it doesn’t look like going away or moving forward (or moving anywhere), throwing a few questions into the melee is all I can offer.